On the surface, the St. John’s tech community showed more excitement about the exit of InspectAR Augmented Interfaces Inc. than the company’s nine-member team.
The news broke on Thursday that the sophomore company has been acquired by Silicon Valley-based Cadence Design Systems for an undisclosed price. As expected, techies and startup types in the Newfoundland and Labrador capital took to social media to applaud the news.
As for the InspectAR team itself, it was business as usual. Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer Nick Warren paused during an interview when asked how the team was celebrating the deal.
“I guess there hasn’t really been that much in terms of celebrations,” he said, describing the team as a bunch of engineers focused on their work. “We took a few moments and cheered with a few beers and then it was back to work.”
As a new employee of Cadence, Warren was unable to say much about the deal or the San Jose, Calif.-based parent company’s plans for growing the St. John’s team. But he did stress one central theme of the press release: that Cadence plans to maintain and grow the InspectAR team in St. John’s, where it has established an office on Water Street.
InspectAR uses augmented reality to help electrical engineers and electronics technicians to quickly assess and improve the state of the printed circuit board, or PCB, that they’re working on. Its software can inspect, debug and rework a PCB, while assisting with assembly and collaboration.
The team uses augmented reality to assess the state of circuit boards and make it easier for hardware producers to work with them.
The company was formed in early 2019 by a team of Memorial University of Newfoundland engineering grads, who worked with the then-fledgling Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship, or MCE.
"Two of the co-founders, Darryl Day and Matthew Noseworthy, completed entrepreneurial work terms with the … MCE in the fall 2018 semester with their startup idea InspectAR, and subsequently won the $2,000 Ignite fund competition,” said MCE Director Florian Villaumé on Thursday. “Co-founder Nick Warren was also one of the first students to work with the MCE as part of the first student ambassador cohort and later on completed an entrepreneurial work term with the centre with a different startup idea."
What’s impressive about this team is the speed with which it attracted clients, investment and a buyer. After forming the company in early 2019, the company launched their product last November and announced $850,000 in funding in January. Seven months later, the company was purchased by an established Silicon Valley player.
What the transaction demonstrates is that most B2B Software-as-a-Service companies have continued to grow through the pandemic, creating wealth and employment despite the economic upheaval. It’s the first exit of the year in the Atlantic Canadian startup community.
It’s also another feather in the cap of the St. John’s tech community, whose recent successes range from established companies like 17-year-old Verafin, to scaling companies like Colab Software, to relative puppies, like InspectAR and Oliver POS.
“This news is another milestone for the growing St. John’s entrepreneurial community,” said MCE’s Villaumé. “InspectAR’s dedication and ambition is an inspiration for others creating startups in St. John’s and Atlantic Canada. The true impact of their acquisition proves again that local startups can not only find success locally but can also compete in the global market."